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Virginia Living Wills Laws

A "living will" is technically not a will, but a legally binding document that details how the signee would like to be cared for if incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate following a serious illness or accident. For example, you may state in your living will that you do not want to be put on artificial life support. Under Virginia living will laws, a living will is only valid if it is written by a competent adult and signed in the presence of two witnesses, along with some other requirements.

The details of Virginia's living will laws are listed below. See FindLaw's Living Will Basics section for additional information.

Code Section 54.1-2981, et seq. Health Care Decision Act
Specific Powers, Life-Prolonging Acts Any medical procedure, treatment, intervention, utilizing mechanical or other artificial means to sustain, restore, or supplant a vital function, or is of a nature to afford a patient no reasonable expectation of recovery from a terminal condition, and when applied to a patient in terminal condition, would serve only to prolong the dying process. Includes artificially administered hydration and nutrition and CPR by emergency medical services personnel but does not include any medication or procedure to alleviate pain or provide comfort care.
Legal Requirements for Valid Living Will (1) Competent adult; (2) written advance directive; (3) signed in presence of 2 subscribing witnesses; (4) oral declaration in presence of physician and 2 witnesses for those in terminal condition; (5) responsibility of declarant to provide notification of advanced directive to attending physician (suggested form §54.1-2984)
Revocation of Living Will Revocable at any time by (1) signed, dated writing; (2) physical cancellation or destruction of declaration; (3) oral expression of intent to revoke. Effective upon communication to attending physician
Validity from State-to-State Directive executed in another state valid if in compliance with Virginia law or law of state where executed. Such directives shall be construed in accordance with Virginia laws.
If Physician Unwilling to Follow Durable Power of Attorney If physician thinks treatment is medically or ethically inappropriate or contrary to terms of advanced directive, unwilling physician shall make reasonable effort to transfer patient to another physician.
Immunity for Attending Physician No civil, criminal, or professional liability if acting in good faith.

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Virginia estate planning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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